I am a self-diagnosed neat freak. I love to clean and I love to organize. (If I could have a container, holder and/or label for EVERYTHING, my life would be complete!) And this is my brand new blog for everything NEAT!
I have a toddler in perpetual motion, a packrat daughter, a dog and a disorganized husband... and I hope to share the challenges, trials, errors, rewards and insights of being a bit "too clean obsessive" in a family that's not so in love with neatness. And I am making a promise to clean, rearrange, organize and simplify my life... and help you along the way! SO stay tuned for my journey toward everything orderly and efficient!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 34: Grocery shopping... from home!?!?

Sorry I have been absent from blogging for a little while. I have been VERY busy these last few days! So busy, I can barely find time to get groceries. Ever have those days?

Well.... I can't even recall where I heard about this, but it sounds really amazing! What is it? It's

It's a website where you can do your GROCERY SHOPPING! And it automatically adds coupons... and it ships for FREE! Really! For every product you add, they'll remind you when you might be running out, find coupons for you and help you avoid the chore of shopping for household essentials at the store.

I have yet to try it, officially, but I can't wait to see my groceries arrive at my front door -- from here on out! :) Ok, so I'm not planning to stock up on ice cream, filet mignon and fresh iceburg lettuce. But I DO plan to get all the rest of those pesky little non-perishables out of the way! *sigh of relief* Now I'll have time to clean the closet, reorganize my pin collection, sort through my kids' too-small clothes, put some items up for sale on craigslist, straighten-up the pantry....

If you'd like to try out, I added their banner to the left side of my page. Looks like you'll get $10 off your order! LUCKY!

Now, THAT's neat!

* Once again, no one asked me to write about this, nor did they pay me to do so. I am writing about on my own accord.... because it sounds really neat!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 33: Speed-cleaning tips

In addition to being a neat freak, I could be dubbed a speed cleaner. I'm fast. Very fast. Of course, part of this is due to the fact that I clean so much, and so often, that it just doesn't take as much time or effort to KEEP everything clean! This goes hand in hand with a great, common-sense tip from our handy-dandy neat freak cheat sheet: do a little cleaning everyday, and you won't have it all build up to HOURS of cleaning once a week... or DAYS of cleaning once a month!

At any rate, I did a little digging on the internet today and found a fellow speed cleaner, Laura Dellutri, a Kansas City, Mo.-based cleaning expert and author of "Speed Cleaning 101." I have never heard of her before, and, no, I do not have her book (yet!?!), but I noticed a list of her favorite cleaning tips, and I thought I'd pass them along to you!
  • In each room, clean from top to bottom. Dust and clean the top shelves, mirror tops, etc., and work your way down. "Dust and dirt fall," she explains.
  • Work rooms in concentric circles, from outer to inner. (Does anyone have a theory on this one? Is this a good way to round-up the dirt and grime and keep it from escaping in to adjacent rooms?!)
  • Have all your supplies on you or near you. Dellutri uses a lightweight backpack vacuum cleaner and attaches rags and spray bottles of cleaning products to the pack's waistband. (I sometimes use a "garden" apron. I stuff the pockets with cleaning products and old t-shirts, so I'm ready for just about anything, anywhere! Or, you can dump what you need in a bucket or basket and tote it around with you. I also keep cleaning products where I need them. Bathroom cleaners in EVERY bathroom. Kitchen cleaning supplies... in the kitchen. Profound!!!)
  • Stay focused. Don't take breaks to talk to your friends, pet the dog or do laundry. "That's why it takes all day," Dellutri says. (I don't know about this one. I tend to break in between tasks. For instance, I may vacuum in the morning and clean the kitchen in the afternoon....)
  • Don't clean clean. Cleaning surfaces that aren't dirty wastes a ton of time, Dellutri explains. For instance, don't clean the entire patio door, clean just the door handle that shows fingerprints. (Wow-- this might be tough for the perfectionists out there! Of course, I tend to do this as well, especially in the dining room!)
  • Minimize products. Dellutri uses only three products: glass cleaner with disinfectant, a multipurpose cleaner (in her case, Kaboom) and an all-purpose cleanser (Dellutri likes cream cleansers).
  • Use rags. Microfiber cleaning cloths pick up more dirt and bacteria, and they won't streak surfaces, Dellutri said.

Now, THAT's neat!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 31&32: The Real Simple Library

I have been an AVID reader of Real Simple magazine since it came out 10 years ago. Don't be fooled, though: this magazine is NOT just for neat freaks! :)

I just love all the helpful tips for organizing and simplifying things in your everyday life. If you haven't checked out this mag yet, then please do so! Not only does it just have a great look and feel... It's inspiring!

Along with that, Real Simple has a host of great books! The one I just added to my library is "The Organized Home." I can't wait to dig through this oh-so-fitting book and fill y'all in on the wonderful advice and helpful hints!

* Just FYI: These are ALL my own opinions and thoughts. Real Simple magazine has not contacted me, paid me or asked me to say anything about their magazine. I just LOVE it! And you will, too! You can click HERE to get a FREE preview issue ... and start streamlining your home... and your life! :)

Now, THAT's neat!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 30: Menacing Medicine Drawer

We don't have a medicine cabinet in our master bath, so we've given that menacing job to one of the drawers. Of course, when I am not constantly checking on this drawer for neatness and organization (and for expiration dates), THIS is what happens. Mass chaos. (Just dive on in, dig around, and hope you come up with what you need!)

So I figured that today was as good a day as any to reorganize this disaster. I took EVERYTHING out of the drawer and organized it in piles by function... bandages, "stomach problems," allergies, bug repellent, headaches and pains, sore throat, etc., etc.

To save some room and hopefully eliminate the chance of a pharmaceutical avalanche, I tossed all the outdated items and random wrappings and trash, got rid of extra bottles, put like medicines together and put all the bandages in just two boxes. I also ripped off all the box tops. (This makes everything neat and tidy... AND easy to get to whatever it is you need to fix your ailment!)

Then I simply stuffed everything that was left back in the basket (did you even know that a basket was in there!?!), making sure to keep like things with like things. I also placed the most-used items (let's see, that looks like bandages, Excedrin migraine and Gas-X) toward the front.

Then I slid the basket back into the drawer and stuck the extra odds and ends (sunscreen, heat pads, etc.) neatly in the back.

Now, THAT's neat!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 28&29: Where the dust bunnies roam

My dining room loves dust. I'm sure of it. Every time I walk through there, I notice dust... and dust bunnies. I think they host a weekly convention there, right under one of the chairs that sits to the side. (I may break down and show you a photo of that one day. But not today. It's embarrassing.)

Of course, there are plenty of things to get dusty in the dining room: the chandelier; the sconces; the glass-top dining table; the candle holders; the decorative mirror; the hordes of dishes, bowls, serving platters, teacups, crystal, vases and other doo-dads that sit idly on the hutch; etc., etc.

And while I obsess about cleanliness, I am NOT one to take down all these items and dust them off, one by one. AGH! I would go insane! I usually just use one of three methods:
  1. dust only the edges and/or the things that you can reach easily without breaking anything;
  2. use a battery-powered duster that spins gently so you can get into those nooks and crannies;
  3. blow really hard.
Just for fun, here is a close-up BEFORE and AFTER picture of a section of the dining room table.



Now, THAT's neat!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 27: If the shoe fits....

I have found that many houses either don't have enough drawer and cabinet space to begin with.... or the owners have WAY too much stuff! Either way, this leads to one of two things:

1. An over-stuffed drawer. You know the one. It gets stuck because all the stuff in it keeps standing up on top of the other stuff and blocking you from opening it. So you have to attempt to squish one hand in there to push everything down while yanking on the handle with your free hand. This usually works. It also usually scrapes off your top layer of skin.

2. An over-packed cabinet. This is the cabinet you avoid like the plague because you know that whenever you have to open it, everything jumps out at you in some sort of organized attack. You know the one. You throw stuff in it, hold it shut it... and run!

Well, to keep from getting too much stuff in our cabinets and drawers, I have devised a simple trick. I use shoe organizers.

Yep. I've purchased several, inexpensive shoe organizers (with lots of pockets) and stuffed them with everyday, useful things like tape, glue, staplers, staples, paperclips, post-it notes, pens, rubber bands, batteries, etc., etc.

You can hang these up in a closet, laundry room, pantry, wherever it's handy for you to get to it! It's amazing how much space this frees up. AND, it's wonderful how organized things are!

Now, THAT's neat!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 26: Thanks for sharing!

A follower of this blog (who happens to be my very delightful sister-in-law!) was recently inspired by my post about the plastic lid rebellion! AND she used a nice, simple little trick: rather than put her plastic lids in a wire holder, she put them all in a large bowl!

Here are her words: "I didn't get the wire rack for two reasons...A) I'm cheap and B) the Tupperware is in one of the top cabinets so I wouldn't have been able to reach the rack :) Darn!"

No worries! Tidiness can be accomplished without spending a dime! Here is proof: some photos of her results!

Thanks for sharing your accomplishment! May your lids stay put and your cabinet remain organized!

Now, THAT's neat!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 25:Another product fav -- carpet freshener

I forgot to mention the other day when I blogged about vacuuming that I LOVE Glade carpet and room deodorizer. No, the makers of Glade did not pay me to say that. I am offering FREE opinions on all the products I list on my blog! (Why? So maybe you, too, can enjoy some great cleaning products!)

At any rate, I love Glade because it smells SO clean and fresh. I am using the "Clean Linen" scent right now, and it's so amazing! Just sprinkle the powder on the carpet, and let it sit for a while as you tidy up something else. Then vacuum it all up!

Ta-da: a super-fresh-smelling house!

This is definitely a MUST when you have pets. Or, at least, it's a must when you have pets like mine - weirdo dogs who like to rub their food-covered faces and other "random stinky parts" on the floor! EEEW.

And what's also great about the carpet and room deodorizer: you don't have to use it every time you vacuum, and you still get the fresh-smelling benefits! The scent lingers a bit in the vacuum, so whenever you run it around the house, the scent is kind of "reactivated!" That is a great, quick tip (neat freak cheat sheet!) if you don't have time to sprinkle, wait and vacuum.... or if you just don't have any more carpet and room deodorizer on hand!

Now, THAT's neat!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 23&24: Some thoughts on neatness

I thought I'd share a few fun quotes about being tidy and organized... or not! :) Enjoy!

  • One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries. ~ A. A. Milne
  • A place for everything, and everything in its place. ~ Mary Isabella Beeton
  • I think housework is the reason most women go to the office. ~Heloise Cruse
  • Order is the sanity of the mind, the health of the body, the peace of the city, the security of the state. Like beams in a house or bones to a body, so is order to all things. ~ Robert Southey
  • I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on. ~Roseanne Barr
  • One who wants to keep their yard tidy does not reserve a plot for the weeds. ~ proverb
  • Good order is the foundation of all good things. ~ Edmund Burke
  • If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, then what is the significance of a clean desk? ~ Dr. Laurence Peter
  • Cleanliness is next to impossible. ~Author Unknown
  • Cat's aren't clean; they're just covered with cat spit." ~ Anonymous
  • Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. ~Phyllis Diller
  • Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you don't do it. ~Author Unknown
  • I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.... I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby. ~Nancie J. Carmody
  • My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance. ~Author Unknown
  • Please don't feed the dust bunnies. ~Author Unknown

Now, THAT's neat!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 22: Think INSIDE the box

My newborn son got some really neat baby gifts and several fun toys for Christmas. Of course, he was only 3-days old at the time, so I just stuck them all in his room.

On the floor.

I figured I would deal with them later. (I was a bit too tired to worry about that, for some reason!)

Being obsessed with organization, though, I had to tackle this problem. Simple solution: I bought a few chocolate-brown canvas boxes to match the colors in his room.

Then I simply unwrapped all the toys, put them in one box and placed it on the floor, and I put the other miscellaneous items in the other box and placed it on the night table.

Instant organization!

(That's why I love baskets and boxes and use them in just about every room in my house!)

Now, THAT's neat!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 20&21: Vacuuming sucks

We've already established the fact that I am a neat freak. So I'm sure it won't come as a surprise to you that I vacuum once or twice every week. Minimum. Of course, I don't think that vacuuming this much is all that uncommon. (Y'all probably vacuum at least that much. Right?) But, there are some people who ask me why I do it so often.

"The house is so clean!" they say. "Why do you always vacuum so much!"

My husband is one of these people.

But I know my efforts are not in vain. And I wanted to prove it to him... and to you!

So I set up a little experiment:
Here is a "before shot" of the empty vacuum container* where all the dirt, dust and debris is captured so you can dump it out in the trash.

You can see that it's quite empty. I even rinsed it out a bit so I could start out with a completely clean slate.

Then I vacuumed the master bedroom and 2 large area rugs. That's it! (The rest of the main floor is hardwood.)

And THIS is the "after shot," showing what the container looked like when I was done! EEEEWWY!

Remember: I vacuum once or twice every week. Now, the container is not completely full, but it had quite a lump of gunk in it. And this is just 4 or 5 days worth of dirt! Can you imagine what it would look like if I didn't vacuum so regularly!?!? *(((shudder)))*

Now, THAT's neat!

* In case you want to know, I have a Bissell Lift Off Revolution Pet vacuum. I purchased it 1 1/2 years ago from Kohl's.... and I LOVE it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 19: The Plastic Lid Rebellion

There are days when I want to throw out every single plastic storage container I currently own. They seem to multiply whenever I start to run out of storage space, and they disappear whenever I need them. It never fails: as soon as I finish scooping leftover beef stew into the perfect-sized container, I start a mad hunt for the lid that fits. And, of course, that lid has absconded with other much-needed and often-used lids. Never to be found again. I liken the situation to socks. Somehow between wearing the socks on my feet and pairing them up when they're dry... they vanish into thin air. (Maybe the pairless socks are hanging out somewhere with the containerless lids?!?)

At any rate, since "kitchen" seems to be the room that needs the most organization, according to the majority of people who took my little survey, I have tackled another common kitchen problem: plastic lids. I used to keep them in a drawer, conveniently located underneath the cabinet where their counterparts were stored. But the lids would get warped and bent... and stuck.... which made them even MORE warped and bent.... and stuck. And, of course, you'd have to remove just about every lid from the drawer to find the ONE that matched whatever container you happened to choose.

So I bought a wire holder that attaches to a cabinet door (or a regular door; i.e. the pantry door). My husband had to round up some smaller screws (since the ones it came with would have gone straight through the cabinet door to the other side -- oopsie!), but it didn't take much effort to get it in the right place.

Then I stuck the majority of the plastic lids in there, where they seem to be nicely organized. I don't know yet if I am a big fan of this contraption, however. I guess it gets most of the lids out of the way. But I'm not sure if it a BIG enough improvement to the tidiness and efficiency of the storage process.

Oh, well! We shall see! Perhaps I'll do a follow-up and let you know. (Like a "2 months later" update to see if I've ripped it off the door and thrown it out the window!)

Now, THAT's neat!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 17&18: A Simple Fix For Scrunchie Insanity

My daughter has about 18,000 hair scrunchies. You know, those stretchy, circular hair thingies made out of material and/or ribbons? Ok. It's not 18,000, exactly. But she has a LOT of them. And they take up an entire drawer and create quite a mess.

SO... I did a really simple fix for this. Have an empty paper towel roll? You do? Well, there you go. It's fixed! :)

Just put the scrunchies on the paper towel tube, and voila!

Tidy scrunchies!

You can just stick the entire contraption in the drawer, and it stays neat for whenever you use them. (Of course, I advise keeping the most "popular" scrunchies toward either end of the tube, that way it's easier to get to them! Otherwise, you may spend some time pulling them all off to get the one you want!)

Now, THAT's neat!